Your Brand Just Got Added to a Must-Have Formulary: Now What?

Guest post published on the Drug Channels Institute blog. 

Today’s guest post comes from Chris Dowd, Senior Vice President of Market Development at ConnectiveRx.

Chris discusses the benefits of using in-electronic health record (EHR) messaging to communicate formulary information to both healthcare providers and patients during the patient encounter. Click here to learn more about ConnectiveRx’s in-EHR messaging

Read on for Chris’ insights.

After months—or even years—of dedicated effort, your access and managed care teams just got your brand added to a must-have national or regional payer formulary. The reimbursement rates are set, the pharmacies are stocked, and the opportunity is massive. It’s time to turn on your formulary pull-through (aka “access pull-through,” “formulary leverage,” or “demand enablement”) strategy. Now what?

In days of old, the strategy was obvious: send your army of field-based sales representatives into the offices of every high-decile prescriber and get those scripts rolling. But the marketing landscape has changed decidedly over time. Throw in a global pandemic, and the answer is not nearly as simple as it used to be.

THE CHALLENGE: DOCTORS ARE RESTRICTING REPRESENTATIVE ACCESS AND SHIFTING TO DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT

The days of universal open-door clinics are likely gone forever. Multiple studies have documented the move to restrict representative access over the last 10 years, and COVID emphatically accelerated the process. According to a Q3 2021 survey of over 1,000 physicians by the Prescribers’ Digital Reference (PDR), more than half of respondents (55%) are not permitting any representative visits, either because of institutional policy or personal choice.

But prescribers cannot work in an information vacuum. They want and need interaction with drug makers, and they are making it increasingly clear that they prefer to communicate digitally. Research from Accenture confirms this seismic shift. More than half of surveyed healthcare providers (HCPs) now say they want to engage with representatives virtually, and 83% of “more recently qualified physicians” prefer that manufacturers deliver information digitally.

The bottom line is clear: marketers cannot depend on representatives alone to drive pull-through after a formulary win. Today’s comprehensive messaging campaigns should include digital engagement, including text, chat, or email. But the most effective and efficient way to reach prescribers may be through in-electronic health record (EHR) messaging.

THE SOLUTION: IN-EHR MESSAGING

The old maxim reminds us that “If you want to catch fish, go where the fish are.” Transferring that idea to HCP messaging invariably leads to the one place where prescribers spend the most working time: in the EHR. In fact, a 2022 article in Medical Economics reports that physicians spend 4.5 hours per day (about half their workday) in the EHR.

It should come as no surprise then, that forward-looking pharma companies are working to deliver formulary-related messages to HCPs in EHR workflow. And, by the way, it’s not just manufacturers using the EHR channel. Payers also use in-EHR messaging to inform and educate prescribers about formulary issues. So it’s only fair that pharma brands are joining the EHR messaging bandwagon. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Engaging physicians through the EHR increases brand awareness, highlights medication pricing information, and enables the delivery of patient savings offers at the moment when they count most. And for our purposes here, in-EHR messaging can be a powerful tool to deliver an array of formulary- and support-status changes:

  • Brand is on formulary
  • Brand has over 90% of lives covered
  • Brand is preferred and/or competitive brand is non-preferred
  • Brand now has patient hub services available
  • Brand now has coupon/copay assistance available

In-EHR messaging lets prescribers stay current with the latest clinical information and helps them provide optimal care to their patients in real time without leaving their EHR workflow. For example, it supplies key information supporting prescribing decisions in real time:

  • Delivers clinical messages to prescribers’ EHR workflow
  • Strengthens prescribing decisions
  • Expands HCP awareness and knowledge

In-EHR messages put your brand in a place where your sales representatives cannot go—right in the office with the patient and prescriber during the patient encounter. Messages can be delivered to prescribers in two key locations within the EHR: at the Login screen, or in the ePrescribing module.

Perhaps most importantly for this conversation, in-EHR messaging is an effective and efficient way to inform prescribers of a new formulary win. The case studies below show the powerful results possible when in-EHR messages are used to deliver formulary information.

THE VALIDATION: TRUE-LIFE CASE STUDIES SHOW IMPRESSIVE RESULTS

The deployment of branded in-EHR messaging has really begun to take shape over the last several years. In our review of multiple brand messaging programs over 4+ years, such messaging was shown to produce a 4.6:1 return across primary-care brands and a 6.5:1 return on higher-priced/specialty brands costing more than $500/month.

In addition, a recent analysis by ConnectiveRx calculated the impact of 8 unique formulary-messaging programs across a 2-year time frame in multiple brands and therapeutic classes. Sample messages are shown in Figure 1. Overall, these formulary pull-through programs produced an average 11.9% script lift. Of course, impact will vary by category, nature of competition in the category, type of announcement, product life cycle status, length of program, and other factors.

Figure 1: Sample in-EHR formulary messages


In light of the ongoing shift toward digital engagement and the acceleration of that shift brought on by the COVID pandemic, in-EHR messaging should be a part of any omni-channel formulary pull-through messaging strategy.

In-EHR messages can put your brand right in the office with the patient and prescriber during the patient encounter. In a series of studies, these messages have been shown to produce a 4.6:1 return across primary-care brands, a 6.5:1 return on higher-priced/specialty brands costing more than $500/month, and an 11.9% average script lift.

Click here to learn more about ConnectiveRx’s in-EHR messaging. Register for our free webinar on September 29th at 1:00 P.M. ET, Your Brand Just Got Added to a Must-Have Payer Formulary, Now What? We will be joined by esteemed industry colleagues, and we will discuss how to drive pull-through effectively and efficiently with in-EHR messaging.

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